Records of Vivian and Sons Limited, Swansea

Scope and Content

The collection includes corporate records 1914-1933, which include the company's partnership deeds, and minutes of board meetings; accounting and financial records 1916-1961, which includes valuations of plants etc; production and operational records 1879-1945, which includes patents and technical drawings; staff and employment records 1916-1927 including compensation papers; title deeds and related papers for premises owned and run by Vivian and Sons Limited 1775-1953 (Cornwall, Morfa Colliery, Pentre Colliery, White Rock Works and Mynydd Newydd Colliery); papers of the Glynn Vivian Trust Sep-Nov 1923, and Vivians White Rock Limited, 1950-1967.

Administrative / Biographical History

Vivian and Sons was founded by John Vivian, a Cornish copper mining entrepreneur. In 1800 he became a partner of the Cheadle Brass Wire Company, at a copper smelting works at Penclawdd to the West of Swansea. He opened his own copper smelting works, Hafod Copper Works, in 1809. The Hafod works had become a leading smelting house by 1820. The company (largely due to the influence on the business of Henry Hussey Vivian, John Vivian's Grandson) diversified by producing gold and silver from ores, smelting nickel and cobalt, and manufacturing alkalis and superphosphates. By the 1870's the company's capital was over £1 million. Vivian and Sons became a limited company in 1914.

In 1924 Vivian and Sons Limited amalgamated with the other major copper smelting firm in Swansea, Williams Foster and Company and Pascoe Grenfell and Sons Limited, to form British Copper Manufacturers' Limited. This was taken over in 1927 by Yorkshire Imperial Metals Limited, a joint company of Yorkshire Metals and Imperial Chemical Industries Limited (ICI). Certain parts of Vivian and Sons Limited were not included in the sale and after 1924 they continued as a holding company, with shares, in British Copper Manufacturers Limited. In 1936 it was decided that the company should go into voluntary liquidation, in the same year a new company (with the same name) was formed.

In 1950 Vivians White Rock Limited was incorporated as a limited company, as per a 1936 agreement with Vivian and Sons and liquidator. It continued until 1966 when it went into liquidation.


The records have been arranged into 6 sub-fonds reflecting the functions of the business, and a sub-fond for the records of the later company: Corporate, accounting and financial, production and operational, staff and employment, premises and property, the Glynn Vivian Trust and Vivians White Rock Limited

Access Information

No restrictions

Acquisition Information

Deposited by KPMG Peat Marwick (KPMG), Grove House, Grove Place, Swansea, SA1 5DE on 24th August 1992

Archivist's Note

This catalogue was produced with support from the National Cataloguing Grants Programme for Archives and from Welsh Assembly Government as part of the Archives and Records Council Wales cataloguing project, 'Powering the World: Looking at Welsh Industry through Archives'. Compiled by Stacy Capner for Archives and Records Council Wales with reference to Vivian and Sons, 1809-1924: A study of the Firm in the Copper and Related Industries by Robert R Toomey (London: Garland Publishing Inc, 1985)

Conditions Governing Use

Usual copyright regulations apply

Appraisal Information

All records have been retained


Accruals are not expected

Related Material

Other collections related to Vivian and Sons and the Vivian family include:

GB 0217 LAC/101 Singleton Abbey, GB 0217 LAC/116 Vivian, William Graham, GB 0217 LAC/117 Vivian, Hugh, GB 0217 LAC/126 Yorkshire Imperial Metals, GB 0217 LAC/122 White Rock Works, all at Swansea University Archives